finding the motherlode

– mining for a vein of truth in the stuff that matters –

when the moon hangs low

honey

4 a.m.

moon hangs low

clearer than clear

backside in his easy chair

as if to say:

“I’ve done my part,

worked hard, time to rest.”

Honey dribbles from his chin.

And I think to myself:

Who will catch it?

This help, this golden muster —

the kind that gives strength in the night,

muscle to my bone,

reparation when I am weak?

(And God knows I need sight to my eyes.

Can’t see a thing without my glasses.)

If that’s my complaint,

then this is my boast:

I am no greater than the moon.

Every season, phase, tide roll — 

around and around

waxing and waning

in and out 

just like it did last year and again yesterday

except the waves don’t crash exactly the same way

and in the same place twice.

That man does not tell God what to do

but hangs listless,

waiting —

until the mouth of Him who speaks 

says:

“Take another turn

lift up

turn around

hide behind the sun

hang low,

shine.

I formed you to give light,

hang low tonight.”

And the honey that dripped from the chin of this faithful witness 

was mine to lick. 

In this thin air, I am sustained.

honey_____________________

©2013 Elizabeth DeBarros

 

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when seeds split open

Ginkgo tree                                                        Photo courtesy of Blandy Experimental Farm

 

How fleeting are the years

they pass under the mistletoe

like steam

rising off the lake

— or was it just a pond?

The ripples,

there are so many now.

Some snows we waited for

never came 

Burning sands underfoot,

our lot.

Fall is a jaunt through the leaves,

telling us what kind of 

summer it’s been.

Of all the faces

none do I recall

so vivid

as when faith took root

and hope appeared

when love formed

in a moment’s time

and eternity’s seed split open

giving birth

to something beautiful.

And time is His, not mine

every ginkgo leaf that falls

is golden,

remembered by the limb

upon which it hung.

If sap then runs in spring

and the redbuds

a little fuller,

Can He not whistle in the wind

and work a wonder for you?

Can He not work a wonder for you?

©2013 Elizabeth DeBarros

a fractured parable

SO MUCH ANGST. I catch myself every now and then, wanting to get loud. I sometimes want to raise my fist, break a jar, carry my torch down into the valley and raid the village. But, like I said, I catch myself. I know how easy it is to prove myself a lemming.

I am fraught with desires.

I’d love a better America. A better world. I recoil at the state of our nation. What I view online or in the newspaper has become like reading a sci-fi horror novel with dystopian overtones. Things we used to pay for to get a cheap cinematic thrill now scare us unsolicited. Art imitates life. I don’t want to run down the list of names, and I refuse to serve up the details, but the amount of information that comes my way on a given day tempts on a visceral level. Voyeurism is the practice of all.

I’ll go on. Everyone’s a celebrity but few are deservedly famous. We’re all experts, but we still wake up desperate each morning for something bigger than ourselves. Isn’t it amazing how we’ve become gods overnight? Late night TV proves that ever since Johnny Carson died, we can choose our own late-night talk show host. We weren’t entirely pleased with Jay Leno. He seemed forced. After SNL turned rancid back in the 90s (didn’t you smell it?) we went backstage and reinvented ourselves. Our remote controls give us power to create. So when Letterman went and ruined it for himself, we found a way to be our own Conan. We greet the world on our little stages, make small talk, announce our guest list, and send everyone home with a laugh before waving goodnight. Did I mention Jimmy Fallon?

If this world is your home, you’ll always be turning up the volume, keeping one eye on the ball while you go get something to eat. Living for the weekend keeps getting harder because half-time is your resurrection from the dead. ‘Mericuns like it this way. Just don’t try to convince us.

________________________________

With a macro lens, I zoom in hard and see a farmer who went out to plant while it was still dark. He spends the better part of the day bent over, taking time with the soil, treating it as though it were a recipe for a fine tea concoction, mixed by the hand of a master blender.

Tillin’ and sowin’, sowin’ and tillin’, and sowin’ some more. Holdin’ that manure fork as if he was born with it. Fertility is the trick! Pack it down, nice and light, let the rains come. “Not too hard, Lord, please.”

When the first peek of growth springs up, his insides smile, making his breeches pop! He leans on his fork, doing his part, shooing away the birds, taking the time to pick off the beetles, keeping things orderly. This goes on all day.

At night, he goes in to settle his haunches, hoping tomorrow brings a little more sunshine.

Wonder what’s on his mind?

“These crops — they’re all I’ve got.”

“That, and time.”  

A farmer being faithful

 

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

— Galatians 6:7

summer bids adieu

lemons and limesCherries and Mangoesmangoes

Mangoes and cherries

lemons, limes

steamy mornings

chill of night

mugs of tea, hot

and iced

I was long in need of refreshment

I was

treading oceans

scaling walls

fixed positions

scrape and thrall —

Making things right

takes time

So, we took the time.

Order comes

as chaos bends

before the Maker

Who descends.

 Watching and waiting — 

Shoot the stars,

 hasten the sun,

collapse the moon:

“Your will be done.”

God didn’t enter our world,

it was rather the other way around.

Beating our wings

 summer bids adieu

a hiccup, 

a laugh,

brief interval,

a curtain or two.

More than order

gone is grief

 Arose in my hands

   (thorns asunder)

rest and peace —

ours, 

Shalom.

©2013 Elizabeth DeBarros

a season of enduring

dried-roses2

                                                                                              Photo credit: Donna Bearden

 

The medal for endurance is not something you start out with. It’s no token for incentive, like a rabbit’s foot or a lucky coin. It’s what you end up with after having lived through your own personal Holocaust. Or Vietnam. Ziklag has its offerings, too. It comes after all has been lost.

But what is it really? What’s it made of?

“Remember David and all the hardships he endured.”

— Psalm 132:1

______________________

Is it determination of the will? Surviving against the odds?

These may be aspects to the business of enduring, but they are not it.

Endurance is something you discover after the harsh winter has run its course and weathered your soul through to spring, when the hands of God cup your face and He whispers, “It’s over.” When the adrenaline stops pumping and hot tears are pouring down your cheeks mingled with the ache and agony of having run so hard for so long. Exhilaration takes another breath.

Something you win after you’ve won.

dried-roses2

“There’s a rose garden in a park, and the rose bushes were never trimmed back. From a distance, I noticed the straggly bushes and unkempt look of the place. But when I wandered over, I was left in wonder as I found one beauty after another in the buds that were left to dry naturally.”  — Donna Bearden

sin’s flower

Removing the Grave Clothes

Corpse-like,

I stand in anticipation

of your sun’s rising

I wrestle

to breathe

to manifest your glory. 

_____

Yet in my quaking

I writhe

to loose the chains

to free my neck

to submit

to the dawn of your breaking

to the swallow of death

to the sting that is no longer there.

_____

I wrestle to walk away from the strips of linen.

_____

What is this oil

dripping 

from my fingers

staining my feet

perfuming my skin 

 fragrant of myrrh and aloes?

 

Removing the Grave Clothes

 

 

©2005 Elizabeth DeBarros

_______________________________

I wrote this poem some eight years ago, at a time when the axe was falling at the root of my shame. Though I had been a Christian for 26 years, shame was still a viable part of me, restless and powerful, the drivetrain of so many hidden faults.

Deliverance came over a long season of dissembling and disintegrating — where God in His wisdom arranged the fires of purging and sent His arrows into my heart until I buckled under the weight of His undoing. The process found me uprooted from the place I knew so well — in servitude to chains of fear, discontent, self-absorption, and doubt — the many-headed phantom of my selfish past that kept me hobbling around in the lowlands.

And because self and shame clasp hands, surrender doesn’t happen without a fight. They each get an odd payoff. One doesn’t leave without the other. The seed of self has to die for shame to go.

See, God didn’t just wash away the crimson stain of sin, He rid me of the sticky resin of shame too.

He takes it all away.

Soli Deo Gloria.

revivin’

 

fields of cotton smiling at me

You want revivin’?

Okay then,

 stop lookin’ so glum.

 You be dug up from the grave,

lifted high on a stick.

Every last one of dem bones

be ‘sessed ‘n’ ‘counted for —

dem ones all snapped and hollow.

You be a sight fer sore eyes,

blackened stiff —

void o’ counsel.

It’s breath ya need, boy, yer fresh outta wind.

Then they’ll carry you into da house,

high up on a stick.

Enticement,

she’ll turn,  

flashin’ her pretty eyes 

lookin’ alive

lurin’ ya into  her arms —

But dat’s only half o’ her, 

ya see.

Last name’s Folly — 

she’ll tear ya ta pieces when yer not lookin’.

Oh, right, you have no eyes.

Blind as a bat —

Wastin’ time, did ya?

Hangin’ upside down,

circlin’ dem murky waters

over ‘n’ over, 

never gettin’ by, let alone far.

Livin’ on bits o’ scrap ‘n’ dirt flies.

Shame.

What you doin’, boy?

You outta yer mind?

I be prayin’ fer ya, least I can do.

Give me your night,

All your broken glass

from the window you broke,

your feeble attempts at pleasure.

I will give you eyes to see what the wise and learned have yearned to see.

Listen, and I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

Then you will no longer tolerate sin.

You will find Me

as you walk out the rest of your days

in newness of life.

Hey, did ya hear?

Dat boy’s all bettah, lookin’ smart. 

No maw hollow sound.

Been put back togethuh.

Yeah, no maw dem bones heard rattlin’.

Yeah, we be revivin’.

 

 ©Elizabeth DeBarros 2013

fields of cotton smiling at me

 In honor of the slave and the freedman. 

 

 

all my longings lie open

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme by Dan Routh Photography

Shut the door,

find me a table 

for leaning,

for yearning,

and for gathering herbs —

where love is the main course.

_____

Pour the oil,

bring on the meat,

tiny morsels, finger sweet.

Slake my thirst

sip o’ drink,

long to linger,

sup at Your feet. 

_____

Under the fruit tree

the ginkgo, the pine,

cedar, bulrushes — 

  of purpose divine.

(But what about the times when I went searching for You under the shade tree,

and got pricked and bled instead?)

Sometimes it takes years to understand

 faithful are the wounds of a Friend.

_____

Bitter root 

drop your leaves,

Tree of life

yields its seed.

 

A longing fulfilled is a landscape in due season.

____

Though pain is the fall

Eternity heals

the ancient wound.

Scattered ashes

before Your throne

Carry me

to another world

all Your own.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme by Dan Routh Photography

© 2013 Elizabeth DeBarros

 

 

a poem for my seventeen-year-old son

Santos, 17 senior photo_edited-1

    


Some advice as you go out the door:

Of life and love

Well, these have a way of shaping you

whether you want them to or not.

Matter drops its weight,

Axe and chisel come unannounced.

 Sandpaper’s rough, but it makes things smooth.

Forget rushing it. 

3-D takes time,

 as do all private wonders.

 _________

Responses.

These are important.

Some will be verbal.

Let Silence cast its vote in the right direction,

your groans be heard in prayer.

There will be interjections, too —

may “Revenge!” not be one of them. 

Leave room.

Push – Pull

“Do it!”

“Don’t do it!”

each tell their stories.

Hook wires up to your heart 

to test you, 

try to steal your grades.

On your marks,

get set!

Intentionality is supposed to be a supposed thing

— but it’s not.

Count your steps.

A sentinel puts one foot in front of the other,

walks a straight line.  

Guard the honor of all men,

known and unknown. 

A watchman stays awake.

_________

Now about salt and pepperings:

source, quality, amounts —

these matter. 

Use more or less, to taste.

Ounce for ounce,

good and bad,

all is weighed.

May the scales lean in your favor.

 _________

Obedience is the blessing,

And triumphs are held in a paper cup.

Sorrows can last a lifetime, depending.

 If you’re blessed with a broken heart,

Faith will do the mending.

 Choices will either render a man hopeless

or find him coming up over the hill, carrying the spoils.

Strength is a fountain of grace

and Hope is a well,

but fear of man is a snare.

 Walk forward on bended knee

 — backwards, if you must —

Feel the might of God

swelling in your chest. 

From Gilgal to Jericho,

take Courage 

and Faithfulness will lead you home.

 _________

Friends.

A necessity.

They come ’round for a game of tackle

and pick you!

From there, 

it’s all field goals and touchdowns.

Others may drop you

for various reasons: 

 fumbles, mishaps, overthrows —

trust the ones who will catch you when you fall.

You’ll be able to count them on one hand, 

and know God sent them.

Joshua, Caleb, David, Nathan, 

your company troop —

Joseph and Daniel,  too.

And a brother is one who goes the distance.

Owe no man but the debt of love,

treat everyone well.

    _________

Of Time and Work

Here’s  what I will say: 

Work is to be done on time

then Time will work for you.

Sleep when you ought

— not too much —

an alarm clock has one purpose:

not to beg.

Up and at ’em,

Ready or not!

Morning comes early —

Sow in the dark, reap at noon.

When evening comes,

you’ll be glad you had the right tools for planting. 

 _________

The Day has come. 

Arrival for Departure. 

Run hard, run long,

Don’t stop except to rest —

He’s your breath, muscle, focus, agility, speed, momentum,

track and backbone.

Deep breath.

Relax.

 _________

Cost.

Always count it —

Even if it costs you everything (it will).

Remember:

the goal is to break tape

and Freedom came at a price.

It still does. 

When weariness comes (it will), 

a cloud of witnesses is cheering  

for your second wind. 

Take it.

__________

 As you go,

look straight ahead.

But first, make sure your shoes are shined.

Be strong, 

Stand firm,

Run free. 

Hold fast your crown.

Go.

 

© 2013 Elizabeth DeBarros 

walking under the weight

clouds14

Daily the brightness of Christ shines 

in darkness He dawns 

shadows flee,

clouds scatter,

trees bend,

horses run —

I fall.

The weight of glory is too much to bear.

Under His arm, with love swelling, grace girding,

I am helped,

but collapse at the thunder of His voice.

He rivets me,

strikes me,

forges what He will against my will.

This is surrender: 

His hands are massive.

And what does ascension look like?

Christ in me,

hope of glory.

clouds14

© 2013  Elizabeth DeBarros